Garbage, drain or pharmacy? How to dispose of medications safely
You can't always avoid sickness, but you can always avoid improperly trashing your medications.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011 - 13:00
As many of us know, we are in the midst of flu season, and cold season is almost year-round. Getting sick is almost inevitable. Even the most hardy of us will get sick at some point. While you can't always avoid illness, you can avoid disposing of your medications in a non-eco-friendly way. Want to learn how to dispose of them properly?
Disposemymeds.org is more than happy to help you find a pharmacy near you that will dispose of your medications, while educating you about drug abuse and pharmaceutical pollution at the same time.
Most of us don't take the full prescription for our illness — we stop when our symptoms improve or go away. At times, the medicines just sit in our cabinets until there is no more room for them and they're tossed out with the rest of the garbage. Yet there are many reasons why leaving unwanted and/or unneeded medication (expired or not) around the house is bad:
— Each year in the United States, more than 71,000 children aged 18 and younger are seen in emergency rooms for unintentional overdoses of prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
— Among young people ages 12-17, prescription drugs have become the second most abused illegal drug, behind marijuana.
— Teens ages 12-17 have the second-highest annual rates of prescription drug abuse after young adults (18-25).
— More than three in five teens say prescription pain relievers are easy to get from parents' medicine cabinets; half of teens say they are easy to get through other people's prescriptions; and more than half say prescription pain relievers are "available everywhere."
— Medication overdoses are most common among two-year-olds. About one out of every 180 visits to an emergency department annually are for medication overdoses.
— The most common medications accidentally taken by children are acetaminophen, opioids or benzodiazepines, cough and cold medicines, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and antidepressants.
And the list goes on.
There are also many reasons why disposing of your medications safely is the best option, rather than just taking them out with the trash:
— More than 100 different pharmaceuticals have been detected in lakes, rivers, reservoirs and streams throughout the world.
— Pharmaceuticals are being detected in the environment and there is genuine concern that these compounds, in the small concentrations that they're at, could be causing impacts to human health or to aquatic organisms.
— A vast array of pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones — have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans.
And this list goes on, as well. Disposing of your medications properly helps to reduce these problems.
Getting sick is just one of those facts of life, but contributing to the abuse of prescription drugs and pharmaceutical pollution of our streams, lakes and rivers should not be. For more information, see Federal Guidelines at the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
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